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What are Varicose Veins


Varicose veins are large, bulging rope-like veins of the legs. They can be simply a visual issue, while others suffer from symptoms such as leg swelling, aching, tiredness, itching and pain. In severe cases, medical issues such as phlebitis, dermatitis and non-healing wounds occur. Varicose veins are a sign of a progressive underlying medical condition known as chronic venous insufficiency.

Varicose Vein Treatment in Tacoma and Olympia


At Northwest Vein Center we specialize in varicose vein treatment and chronic venous insufficiency, offering state-of-the art treatment to patients in Tacoma, Olympia, and the Seattle area. Our patients undergo a thorough circulatory evaluation, and after gaining a complete understanding of the venous system issue, a customized treatment plan is formulated.

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Many, excellent, vein treatments are available and range from various conservative measures that control symptoms to minimally invasive procedures which improve circulation and leave the leg feeling and looking better! Procedures are performed in the office with rapid return to regular activity, and are covered by most insurance plans. Surgery such as ligation & stripping can usually be avoided.

To learn details of specific treatments, continue reading

Reference:

Gloviczki P, et al. The care of patients with varicose veins and associated chronic diseases: clinical practice guidelines of the Society for Vascular Surgery and the American Venous Forum. JVS; May 2011.

Vein Treatment Options

Laser Ablation (EVLT)
fiberschematicEndovenous laser ablation (EVLT) is a minimally invasive vein treatment that is one of the most widely performed vein procedures in the world. In EVLT, targeted laser energy is used to heat and permanently seal the vein. The procedure is performed through a small needle which pierces the skin and enters the vein, similar to an IV. Through the needle, a laser fiber is introduced and positioned precisely under ultrasound guidance. The procedure is performed with local anesthetic and typically completed in under an hour.

Recovery is excellent and patients walk immediately after the procedure, returning to normal activity soon thereafter. At Northwest Vein Center, two different laser systems are available allowing us to select the best system to your individual need.
Radio Frequency Closure (Venefit)
Radiofrequency (RF) vein closure is the first FDA approved, minimally invasive catheter treatment for varicose veins. The procedure uses radiofrequency waves delivered through a small catheter to heat collagen fibers causing them to shrink and the vein to close. During the procedure, the RF catheter is introduced and positioned precisely under ultrasound guidance. The procedure is performed with local anesthetic and typically completed in under an hour.

Recovery is excellent and patients walk immediately after the procedure, returning to normal activity soon thereafter. Published studies have reported less discomfort and bruising with RF closure than with some lasers.
Nonthermal Ablation (ClariVein, Varithena, Venaseal)
The next generation of vein treatment is here! Nonthermal ablation is the latest and least invasive method to treat varicose veins. Nonthermal ablation involves the use of chemical energy to effectively close veins without heat unlike laser or radiofrequency ablation. Because the procedure is heatless, tumescent anesthesia is not necessary, and the benefit is a faster, safer procedure with improved comfort. The procedure is often called nonthermal, nontumescent ablation.

Currently there are three different nonthermal technologies available: ClariVein, Varithena and Venaseal. Each has a unique chemical mechanism of chemical action, and a vein specialist can help determine which procedure is best suited for you. At Northwest Vein Center, we are proud to be among the first centers in the nation to offer this technology.
Microphlebectomy
MicroPh

Microphlebectomy is a minimally invasive technique to remove large, bulging and tortuous varicose veins. The procedure involves making tiny punctures on the skin through which the varicose veins are removed leaving the skin surface smooth. Even though the veins appear large when standing, they are very collapsible making it possible to remove them. The skin incisions are so small no stitches are required.

The procedure is performed in the office under local anesthesia and often combined with catheter ablation to achieve optimal results. Patients walk immediately after the procedure, returning to normal activity soon thereafter.
Sclerotherapy
Varicose and spider veins can be treated by injection of medication into the affected vein that closes the vein and shuts down blood flow, ultimately eliminating the vein. Several different sclerosant medications are available and the medicine is injected as either as a liquid or foam. Ultrasound guidance is used to inject hidden, larger varicose veins and perforator veins (which connect the deep and superficial vein systems) for better accuracy and coverage. A vein specialist can determine which veins are suitable for sclerotherapy. At Northwest Vein Center, only FDA approved sclerosant medications are used.
Surgery
Minimally invasive vein procedures have replaced surgery as the treatment of choice over the past decade. Surgical techniques such as ligation & stripping, subfascial endoscopic perforator surgery, and thrombectomy can usually be avoided.

In a small minority of patients with complex and/or recurrent venous disease, surgery may still be an important component of the treatment plan. You want a vein specialist with surgical expertise who will help determine the best treatment plan for your situation.

 

Vein FAQ

What are varicose veins?

Varicose veins are enlarged veins that are caused by a malfunction of the valve inside the vein. When the valve malfunctions, blood pools and pressure increases in the vein causing it to expand and bulge.

Can I be cured of my varicose veins?

Individual veins can be successfully treated; however, vein disease cannot be permanently cured. Treated veins will no longer be varicose, but vein disease is a chronic condition, and over time, other veins can become varicose. 

Does treatment hurt?

By using the latest, minimally-invasive treatments, the procedures are virtually painless. Most patients are able to resume their normal activities immediately after treatment.

Will insurance cover treatment?

Most varicose vein treatments are covered by insurance, including Medicare, as a medical necessity when the veins cause pain or other symptoms. Cosmetic spider veins are generally not covered by insurance. We will help to determine what is covered by your insurance plan.

How long does treatment take?

Every person requires a unique treatment plan which will determine the length and number of treatments recommended. If you have a special trip planned or want to wear a new outfit to show off your “new legs,” plan ahead! Generally most procedures are completed within an hour.

What should I expect after treatment?

All procedures are performed in the office without the need to be sedated.  All procedures allow you to leave with ability to exercise and work with very little short term limitations. As in all medical procedures; side effects are possible but serious side effects are extremely rare with these techniques.

Don’t I need my veins?

With the removal of varicose veins, circulation actually improves. Venous blood flow will reroute through healthy veins to leave the leg. Varicose veins are also not suitable for heart bypass so you have no reason to keep your varicose veins.

Why treat the veins?

People seek help for spider and varicose veins for a number of reasons. While some simply dislike the way their legs look, vein issues can be a progressive medical condition that leads to leg pain, swelling, cramping, dermatitis and even ulceration. Vein treatment can help make your leg look and feel better.

Can I have my veins treated during pregnancy or while breastfeeding?

Some varicose veins that develop during pregnancy will return to normal after delivery. Therefore, we recommend that all women wait at least six weeks after delivery before having varicose veins treated. Depending on the circumstances, veins can be treated while breastfeeding.  Speak to our doctors to learn more.

Is there scarring?

With the latest procedures for removing spider and varicose veins, there is very little if any scarring.

Will varicose veins come back?

Treated veins will not return, but as with any progressive condition, healthy veins may become varicose and form over time.